Nigeria’s Former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and the West African Elders Forum (WAEF) have urged Liberian political parties and politicians that had signed the peace accord to comply with the principles of the pledge and refrain from actions that could promote violence or threaten the electoral process.
Dr Jonathan, who led a delegation of the Elders on a three-day pre-election mission to Liberia ahead of the country’s October 10, 2023, general elections, also charged them to stay away from hate speech and inflammatory language, urging them to embrace issue-based campaigns.
At a press briefing in Monrovia at the end of the mission on Thursday, Dr Jonathan, who was also accompanied on the delegation by a former Prime Minister of Burkinabo Faso and former President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Kadrie Desire Ouedrago, said: “WAEF commends the political parties that have signed the Peace Accord, popularly known as the Farmington River Declaration. We encourage them to comply with the principles in the peace pledge and refrain from actions that promote violence or threaten the electoral process. We invite other political parties and contestants who have not signed the peace agreement to do the same to ensure that the election holding in October is peaceful.”
Counselling against hate speech, the former President noted that abusive language, personal attacks and incendiary rhetoric have no place in progressive politics and development-oriented governance.
He, therefore, advised Liberian politicians to embrace “issue-based campaigns and eschew politics of bitterness because of its harmful effect on democracy, peace and sustainable growth.”
Dr Jonathan further called on all Liberian stakeholders to ensure that the scheduled October 10, 2023, general elections would be peaceful, free, fair, inclusive and transparent.
Highlighting the importance of proactive communication by managers of elections, the WAEF leader said: “As a means of boosting confidence in the exercise, we encourage role players in the election, especially the NEC and the security authorities, to regularly communicate their programmes and activities for the elections, to constantly reassure the citizens that the electoral processes are going according to plan.
“We note that sometimes, even with the best of intentions, lack of proactive and effective communication becomes a challenge at a time like this because it could give room for doubts and misgivings in the minds of some people.”
Jonathan also commended Liberians for their enthusiasm and resilience shown thus far ahead of the fourth cycle of the elections since the end of the brutal civil war in 2003. He called for calm and understanding ahead of the polling.
Speaking further on the outcome of the pre-election assessment mission, Dr Jonathan said he was impressed with the various meetings he held with major stakeholders in the country and the willingness of the people to work for the success of the electoral process in line with the wishes and aspirations of the Liberian people. The stakeholders the delegation met included President George Manneh Weah, the leadership of both houses of the national legislature, the Chief Justice and the full bench of the Supreme Court, some presidential aspirants, various political parties, civil society groups and diplomats.